The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK fell by eight percent in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period last year, but spiked in May as Israeli soldiers clashed with Palestinians on the Gaza border.
Half-year figures published today by the Community Security Trust (CST) reveal there were 727 anti-Semitic incidents from January to June, the second highest ever recorded for that period, with almost a quarter coming from social media.
Of most concern to CST bosses however was the “unprecedented” high level of anti-Semitic incidents being registered every month, with 100 or more in all but two months since April 2016.
As with previous years, flare-ups between Israelis and Palestinians appear to have had an impact on anti-Semitism in the UK. Across April and May, when the protests at the Gaza border turned most deadly, there were an average of 150 incidents per month, whereas in January, February, March and June the average was 107.
The CST said incidents “showing anti-Israeli motivation” were up 63 percent on the first six months of last year, and that events in Gaza “may help explain” the spike in April and May, but that there were other factors driving the consistently high levels, including the growing confidence of anti-Semites to express their views.
The charity, which protects Britain’s Jewish community, said that while the number of anti-Semitic assaults against Jews was down by 26 percent, there had been an increase in online hate, which now comprises 22 percent of the total. Last year it comprised 18 percent.
“Social media has become an essential tool for those who wish to harass, abuse and threaten Jewish public figures and institutions, or who simply want to broadcast their anti-Semitic views,” the CST said, revealing that the number of online anti-Semitic incidents in the second quarter was double that of the same period last year.
“Targeted campaigns directed at individual victims can sometimes involve dozens of social media accounts sending hundreds or even thousands of tweets, images or posts using material usually created on neo-Nazi websites.”
The charity said Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis had been referenced in 34 incidents, but across the board numbers had fallen. Damage and desecration of Jewish property was down 20 percent, threats were down nine percent, and abusive behaviour fell by seven percent.
Although there was one incident involving a knife and 13 incidents involving other objects such as bricks or bottles, there were no incidents classed as ‘extreme violence’, which could include grievous bodily harm or threats to life.
CST bosses welcomed the half-yearly fall in numbers but were careful to note that the figures were still at record-high levels.
“Any fall is welcome,” said CST chief executive David Delew. “But these are the second worst figures ever and continue a trend that has lasted for over two years. Anti-Semitism is not a random event. It reflects the state of British politics and wider society.”
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Hate Crime, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, paid tribute to the CST. He said: “We know all strands of hate crime are under-reported. Charities provide a valuable alternative option for those victims who do not wish to report direct to the police.”
Board of Deputies Vice President Amanda Bowman reacted to the figures, saying: “The Community Security Trust’s latest report shows a small reduction in antisemitic incidents in the first six months of this year but
reported antisemitism is still at historically high levels so there is no room for complacency. We commend the CST for their valuable work and we will continue to work with our colleagues there as well as with the Government, police, parliamentarians and public authorities to ensure that the UK continues to be a safe and welcoming place for the Jewish community.”
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